Updated: Jul 7, 2020
Reflux is categorised under Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD/GORD), but it may not always be GORD. Mayo Clinic states that GERD occurs when stomach acid frequently back into the oesophagus. This can damage the mucosal lining of the oesphagus and cause irritation, leading to a chronic cough, laryngitis and/or disturbed sleep. For reflux to be classified as GERD it must occur at least twice a week, or severely once a week.
The symptoms include heartburn, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, sour regurgitation or the sensation of a lump in the throat. It may be caused by lying down too soon after eating, excessive weight compressing the stomach, smoking (in any amount), or insufficient stomach acid which interferes with digestion. Poor hydrochloric (stomach) acid production and secretion impacts food breakdown and nutrient availability and can continue to impact digestion further down the GIT because of this. It also acts to destroy incoming pathogens contained in our food, so you can see why not secreting enough can be bad for our health.
To ‘treat’ reflux, there a few food based options, as well as herbs that support digestive function. Diet wise, reducing the amount of spices, tomatoes, large refined carbohydrate meals, coffee and alcohol for a while can help reduce symptoms. Increasing protein, one serving at each meal, perhaps ⅓ cup of nuts as a snack, can help improve tissue repair in the oesophagus and help support hydrochloric acid production. Herbs that are mucilaginous (mucoprotective and demulcent) like marshmallow, slippery elm and licorice coat the oesophagus and gastric mucosa to protect it. Anti-inflammatory herbs such as turmeric, chamomile, willow bark, aloe vera, or nettle may aid to reduce inflammation if needed. Lastly, I may suggest some mucus membrane tonics or vulnerary herbs to support the healing of the mucous membrane. This may include calendula, yarrow, or goldenseal.
Some things you can do at home is drinking marshmallow, chamomile or nettle tea, sleeping with your head and shoulders propped up a bit a night (use 2 pillows) to prevent the stomach contents from reaching your oesophagus. Additionally, try to keep dinner and snacks 3 hours aways from bedtime - no overeating; this way your food have moved past your stomach by the time you get to bed. Reduce or remove the things that you notice cause reflux, making sure it's that isolated 'thing'. As always, ensure you’re drinking enough water (2-3L) and exercising on a regular basis.